MEXICO CITY — Officials at an elite academy operated by the Legionaries of Christ apologized for a viral video starring students in its graduating class who critics accused of sexism and showing off insensitivity and privilege.
The professionally produced video shows male students in suits, sipping drinks, tending to a jaguar on a leash and carrying out a casting call in which young women attempt to win their affection. The women dance, strip, chase the students and even wash their feet. The young men feign fatigue with it all.
“The Cumbres Institute Mexico asks for an apology for the content of the video that offended various persons, who have expressed anger,” said a statement released by the Legionaries school in Mexico City March 28.
“This video in no way represents the values and principles of the school, students, families and graduates,” it continued. “The necessary measures are being taken with the students involved and to establish rules so that it does not occur again.”
In a country consumed with inequality, classism and scant social mobility, the video provoked outrage, especially as a generation of materialistic and entitled Mexicans known as “mirreyes” (my kings) captures attention for flaunting their families’ money and posting pictures on social media sites of fancy cars, international holidays and shopping sprees.
The video also brought attention back to the Legionaries, whose founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, courted wealthy Mexicans to support his order, but died in disgrace, having led a life contrary to Catholic values after it was learned he sexually abused seminarians and fathered children. Pope Benedict XVI called for the order to be reformed with a new charism.
The video became widely known in late March as the country marked the six-month anniversary of the abduction of 43 students, teacher trainees in Guerrero state. They were abducted in late September by police acting on the orders of a corrupt mayor and were turned over to a criminal gang and killed, according to the Mexican attorney general’s office.
The video’s release also comes as Mexico questions the actions of its elite. Ricardo Raphael, author of “Mirreynato, the Other Inequality,” which chronicles the impact of the offspring of Mexico’s elite on the country, said the Mexican upper class is increasingly seeing the need to show off status. He said they are doing so not just out of vanity but also as a way to project power, which would afford privilege and offer impunity in a country with weak institutions and rule of law.
Raphael’s book touches on the “mirreyes,” the children of the elites who are often provided jobs in government or business based on their connections.
The young adults were more discreet in the past, Raphael explained, but times have changed as children of the rich compete to post photos of luxury items on social media sites and appear in the pages of lifestyle publications.
“They’re careless now. They don’t face consequences because of their exhibitionism,” he said. “If you show off, you get benefits because people are going to protect you – because you are showing off.”